Septober 2021

September and October, in one post. It’s November now, and I have never been happier to welcome November. I’m exhausted. Between summer, birthday season, and everything school and activities, it’s been an exhausting few months. Juggling five kiddos probably has something to do with it also. Maybe. And we’re still dealing with this whole pandemic thing—incredibly exhausting. November will bring calm. And daylight savings time, my favorite. I absolutely love when it gets dark early. Toss in those super cold days—where the cold bites while opening the door—the best. And holiday season!

Hibernation mode, my plans for the next few months. The last few weekends of October, we cancelled everything on the calendar—including a cabin trip—leaving us with nothing. Literally nothing. We had so much nothing, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. And it was glorious. With the exception of Halloween. That was a welcomed something though. Back to trick-or-treating, like pre-Covid years. It’s November now, and we have a very quiet calendar through the end of the year. A few things here and there, and one one-night trip. But the blanks on the calendar, more nothing. And I couldn’t be more excited.

Let’s review the exhaustion. First, there was summer.

Birthday season.

Laine kicks off birthday season in July. She hit double-digits on July 19 and took great pleasure in mentioning that she and Blaise were the same age until his birthday on September 9. Brian does this to me also, for those 20-something days he and I are the same age. It’s not that it matters, number-wise, it’s that it’s super annoying to hear over and over, knowing they’re only saying it over and over to annoy you. Laine is so much like Brian, scary. Haha!

Laine had a small party, with her two really good friends. We rented a hotel suite for a sleepover, which worked out really well. All about her turning 10 here. Blaise is next in the birthday lineup, turning 11 on September 9. We celebrated at home on their actual birthday, like we always do. Decorations, dinner of choice by the birthday person, followed by cake and presents. And much to Brian’s annoyance, I have made it a tradition that the birthday person gets cake for breakfast the day after their birthday. And if there’s enough cake leftover, all kiddos get breakfast cake. Brian is a breakfast is for breakfast, lunch is for lunch, and dinner is for dinner kind of guy. I can be equally annoying.

Blaise had a party on September 11. With Covid, we hesitated having a party. But Covid is here and life must go on, with precautions. Masked up with hand sanitizer galore, we had a small party at an escape room in Redmond. All about Blaise’s birthday here.

Saige is the next birthday kiddo, turning seven on September 17. Another home celebration and party was on tap. All about Saige’s birthday here. Baby was next, turning six on October 7. All about her turning six here. Brian has the decorations down, and can get them up in no time after years of practice. He was the decorator growing up in his home, with five brothers. Brian is a crepe paper master. We celebrated Baby at home and also with a party; it was a joint party for Saige and Baby. Several of the kiddos’ friends are siblings with the big kiddos’ friends, and I never feel great about taking away multiple weekend days from families for all my kiddos’ parties. Joint parties when possible.

Maive wrapped up birthday season on October 30, right before Halloween kicks off holiday season. I was going to have her on November 11, since 11 is my favorite number. But I was so over being pregnant that I had her early. I was aiming for October 29, since we have a 9th and 19th, and a 7th, and 17th pattern with the kiddos’ birthdates. It would have been fun to add in a 29th. But then maybe I’d feel obligated to have a 27th?! I don’t want any more kiddos—Brian is fixed and I’m pushing 43—but I would totally have more kiddos. Haha. Makes perfect sense, I know.

Maive is two! I never understand why they call it the terrible twos, which is a pretty terrible way to describe kiddos in the first place. But two is cake. Three, that’s that harder age. I am absolutely loving having one toddler. I have only ever had two toddlers at the same time, with Blaise and Laine being 10 months apart, and Saige and Baby being 12 months apart. It’s so calm, having only one. And, I totally have this kid thing down at this point. That probably helps. All about Maive turning two here.

Everything school.

Reading this is exhausting. I really went on a ramble, mostly for memory sake when I read this in 10 years—just look at the pictures.

This is year six of homeschooling. None of our kiddos have ever attended regular school. And while sending them to regular school sounds appealing, it’s not something we will likely ever do. Never say never. (But probably never.)

The first year we homeschooled—when Blaise and Laine were in kindergarten—I used to feel the need to justify our homeschooling. I’d answer that we homeschooled because we felt it was right for our family, and that we’d see how it goes. And then the but socialization! opinions would be fired back at me. It’s incredibly difficult to remain respectful with the socialization thing but you do. It’s the go-to for non-homeschoolers to try and zing you with. I just repeat Hanlon’s razor, “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity,” in my head when asked about socialization. Or really, any homeschooling opinions by random people. And smile, to let them think I’m listening.

Our second year, I felt the need to explain we aren’t weird homeschoolers, not the bible at the kitchen table with long skirts kind of homeschoolers. The stereotype I held long before having kiddos. And, hey, if that works for some homeschoolers, more power to them. Back then, I did’t want to be judged on a common stereotype. I already border on the are they a religious family? with the crew of kiddos I have, and being pale, blonde, with blue eyes. Total Mormon vibes. But we’re a progressive, agnostic atheist family living life in ways that work for us. Like all families should. And we happen to homeschool.

The third year, I became less interested in justifying our homeschooling. Instead focusing on how although we homeschool, I still totally support public schools and how they are an important part of society for many families and how all kids should have access to education. And that I am more than happy to pay taxes—hell, even more—and that teachers should be paid waaay more.

The fourth year, I stopped caring in the slightest what people thought when they’d ask, “No school today?” I’d simply answer, “We don’t do school on [insert day of the week].” It was always met with a confused look but never any follow-up questions. It worked well. Then, Covid. And everybody became quasi-homeschoolers. We had zero questions out and about during Covid.

This year, we’ve already been asked, “No school today?” a few times. Regular school kiddos haven’t even been back two months and here we are. My answer this year is, “Nah, I don’t send my kids anywhere they have to ask permission to use the restroom.” And leave it at that. It’s enough snark to cause the person asking not to come up with a follow-up question quickly, yet firm enough nobody really has a general comeback. But it speaks to the actual reason we homeschool: freedom.

  • Freedom to tailor learning to each kiddo.
  • Freedom for each kiddo to learn about things that interest them.
  • Freedom to learn when and where we want.
  • Freedom to explore activities outside of school without time restrictions.
  • Freedom to travel.
  • Freedom to use the restroom, without permission.

All the reasons come back to freedom. There are many more. I started to ramble on with explanations for each of the freedoms listed above. And then I deleted them. They’re pretty self-explanatory. And, I’m totally sold on homeschooling. Obviously. No need to subconsciously rationalize our reasons. And I have no desire to try and convince others to homeschool. There’s no need to go on and on about why homeschooling is so wonderful… for us. And I realize the kind of homeschooling we do is a bit on the privileged side and doesn’t reflect the various ways to homeschool. We will continue down the homeschool road until we don’t. But I don’t really see any reason to stop. The kiddos are thriving and have no desire to go to regular school—we give them the option each year.

There I went, rambling as usual. But year six. Exhausting. Four out of five kiddos are elementary age, and it’s become quite the juggling act to meet everyones educational needs. While this is one of the freedoms I speak of, tailoring four kiddos’ learning is, well, exhausting.

All four attend programs three days each week. I think this is the perfect amount of time. It allows time for each kiddo to learn about subjects that interest them, outside of their school programs. And it allows downtime for extra sleep and activities that they probably wouldn’t have time for if they attended regular school. But this means I spend my week as a kiddo Uber. It’s all good. I absolutely love all the programs they attend, and my school-age self is incredibly jealous they have such an amazing thing going on.

Blaise and Laine attend in-person school, all day, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Each day is a different program: part-time public school, outdoor school, and a writing program.

Part-time public school. The part-time public school is a PPP—parent-public-partnership—made for homeschooling families. This is the best of both worlds. They get a regular school experience, without attending regular school. I don’t necessarily send them here for the education. It’s more about the experience: buying lunch; going to recess; attending a science fair; holding a book fair; taking field trips; having teachers, a principal… all the regular school things that I want them to have an understanding about when regular school kids reference school. And the biggest bonus, is that they’ll get an official diploma; not a homeschool made-by-mom diploma. It’s not that the education is bad, it’s fine. But it’s not anything I would want them to only have. This year they are in fifth grade, and have electives in the afternoon. At this school, K-4 classes are only core subjects. So this year is pretty exciting for them.

Outdoor school. These kiddos are outdoor school aficionados. All of our kiddos started with outdoor parent-child classes, attended outdoor preschool, and moved on to outdoor school-age programs. The program they’re in this year—the same as last year—is so freaking amazing. Every kiddo should have this experience, in my totally biased opinion. It’s 100% outdoors, rain, snow, or sun. They learn about vegetation, animals… everything nature and outdoors; they build shelters, make fires, learn knife and hatchet skills; they practice gratitude and appreciation for everything. It’s such am AMAZING program.

Writing program. I could go on and on about how much I love the outdoor school. But this writing program, it’s by far my most favorite program of all time, out of all the programs all the kiddos have attended over the years. The woman who runs this program is fabulous. She was homeschooled—unschooled—herself, and went on to Stanford before starting this program. Instead of trying to articulate all they do, I stole the class description from the website: “In this comprehensive, in-depth class, we will immerse ourselves in language arts broadly and creatively. We will cover writing mechanics including spelling, grammar, and word roots in addition to writing poetry, stories, research projects, persuasive essays and more. We’ll explore storytelling, the history of the English language, and map-making as a narrative tool. The in-person class will also incorporate art, singing, and active outdoor play and nature immersion.” And that’s exactly what they do. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this program and will be incredibly sad when Blaise and Laine age out. Although, I have three more who will attend. My love will continue to grow, haha.

First days of school, as fifth graders! At their part-time public school and writing program. I forgot to grab a picture of their first day of wilderness school.

In addition to their in-person classes, Blaise and Laine also attend some online classes. Each week they have a core math class that is a flex class; they can do the work whenever, before Friday at 9am. Each Friday at 9am they have an online math lab to review the core class. Also, a weekly comprehensive science class online. The teacher is amazing and makes it so much fun. Not one complaint about the kiddos having to take science, which is at 8am Monday mornings. I have to wake them up. Two more non-negotiable online classes I signed them up for: grammar and history. One day we were driving, and Blaise busted out grammar rules out of nowhere. This is how I know—not only is he learning and retaining the information—he’s enjoying the class enough to discuss it randomly in the car. And the history class, it’s American history. But not the America is so great! history taught in schools. Like Columbus was a good guy. And Thanksgiving is all about pilgrims. America also has a dark history. And it should be taught. The rest of the week, they have online classes here and there, focused on their interests.

Saige and Baby also attend in-person school three days each week. Two days each week, they attend the part-time public school. And the third day, they attend outdoor school.

Part-time public school. They both attend full-day and one half-day. In this school K-4 all attend 1.5 days. It’s in fifth grade when they start attending two full days. Blaise and Laine only attend one full day because of their other programs. Days conflict, and the other programs win out. Saige and Baby are taking core classes only: math, language arts, social studies, science, and art. I love that art is considered a core class. And while they are learning in their core classes, again, I don’t send them for the education. It’s the experience. But bonus for what they learn.

Outdoor school. Saige goes with Blaise and Laine one day each week. The program is for ages 7-12 and Saige just turned seven. They break the outdoor class into two groups by age: 7-9 and 10-12. So while Saige goes with Blaise and Laine, they are in different groups. Not that it would matter. Baby is six now, and still in the ages 4-6 class that is a different day than the older threes’ outdoor class. We call if Wolf School for Baby, because they often meet at the Wolf Den, one of the locations on the outdoor school property. And, Baby wants to be a werewolf when she grows up. She LOVES wolf school. If any of our kids were meant for outdoor school, it’s Baby. She thrives the most outdoors. Being loud and extremely active are two of her main traits—perfect for outdoor school.

Saige and Baby on their first day of part-time public school. Saige started first grade and Baby started kindergarten! I also didn’t grab pictures of them on their first days of wilderness school. Oops.

Saige and Baby also attend a few online classes each week. They both take geography and a let’s be doctors class, learning about the body. Baby is super interested in space, and takes a space class each week. That happens when regular school is in session. Another freedom reason; she wouldn’t be able to take this class if she attended regular school. Baby also takes a class that focuses on a different animal each week, along with a phonics class. And Saige is in a science book club. So many options!

And then there’s Maive! Maive started the outdoor parent-child class in September. The Lunch Bunch. She loves going! It’s pretty easy for any toddler to have fun anywhere. But she seems to actually enjoy being in a class. She interacts with the teacher and other kiddos, and follows the group without getting distracted too much. Of course she gets distracted, but for two, she does extremely well. Better than I thought she would. And the backpack. It’s all about wearing a backpack for her. She’s spent the last two years watching her older siblings go to school with backpacks, and she wants to be like them. And bonus, she’s learning to keep her mask on longer than five seconds. Seeing the other kiddos in class wear masks, she’s getting the hang of keeping hers on. And it helps that when she does rip it off, I tell her she can’t be with her friends if she doesn’t keep it on and she lets me put the sucker back on her face. If we can get anything out of this class, mask-wearing would be the best outcome.

Maive’s first class!

And since she’s cute, her second class!

So, yeah. School is exhausting. Scheduling all the classes, coming up with curriculum for our actual homeschooling, driving them all around, exhausting. And let’s be real, it’s not the traditional homeschooling stereotype. I’ve always called it outschooling since we outsource several classes. Long before started. And funny enough, we utilize for several classes. Whatever we do may be exhausting and self-imposed, but I wouldn’t change a thing. The kiddos are all thriving and enjoying all of their classes—even the ones I make them take. And while it sounds appealing to send them to regular school—they’d all be at one school, on one schedule, all week long—it doesn’t work for me. If they went to regular school, I feel like I wouldn’t see them much. Between school and activities, and then homework, dinner, and their bedtime routines, I don’t think we’d have much downtime to enjoy the kiddos. And then there’s that whole educational freedom thing.

Everything activities.

Each kiddo has 1-2 activities. Which isn’t exhausting if we only had one or two kiddos. The one thing I excel at—other than popping out kiddos (and rambling, two things)—is scheduling. I have our weekly schedule down. It’s seamless. Busy, but seamless.

Laine only has gymnastics. She’s on a gymnastics team, practicing 12 hours each week broken into four hour practices, three evenings each week. Two of these evenings are after a full-day of school. Laine goes from 9am-3pm to school, and straight to practice from 4-8pm. She kicks ass. Never once has she complained. Laine is a hard-worker and dedicated to gymnastics. Another freedom of homeschooling, having time for the gymnastics team. Of course going to regular school doesn’t impact being on a team. All of her teammates are in regular school. But if Laine went to the elementary school up the street, she wouldn’t get out until 3:45pm. Practice starts at 4pm, a half-hour away. And me being me, I would pull her from school the three days she has practice, rather than have her be late to practice. And if I were to pull Laine, I sure as hell would pull the other three kiddos. The school would not be happy with me. And then the whole school all week long thing isn’t ideal. I like that Laine has down days each week. She works hard between school and gymnastics, and down days are much needed. And while Laine would love to add additional activities—she’s down for anything—time is a hindrance. Starting in October, Laine will have 11 meets between October and the end of April.

Blaise had four activities. But only two now. Except one is monthly and probably more under the homeschooling umbrella. And two ended. His main weekly activity is rock climbing. Blaise has been a member at a local indoor rock climbing gym since before Covid. Brian is a member also, and started taking Blaise and Laine with him a few times each week. Then Covid and nothing since. Until September. Blaise attends a weekly, two-hour rock climbing class. One of the goals I have with activities for the kiddos, is finding activities they can grow into as teens and adults. Not that gymnastics really checks off the adult activity box but whatever. Blaise can rock climb long into his adulthood. I see people in their sixties at the rock climbing gym. He was taking an intro to mountain biking class in September. It was only a three-week class, that I wish was longer. He had so much fun! And it’s another into adulthood activity. We’ll definitely be registering him for mountain biking summer camp. And hopefully we can get him over to Duthie Hill on our own time. The third weekly activity was a ninja class at the same gym where Laine is on a team. I was already there to drop off Laine, that it worked out to have Blaise, Saige, and Baby take a ninja class. But we ended this in October. We decided not to renew for the third session. They aren’t as into it as they used to be and it’s $270 saved each month. And time. It saves me from having to kill an hour each week. His monthly activity is archery. He started archery in October and loved the program! It came highly recommended to us from a friend and Blaise agrees it’s a great program.

Saige is also rock climbing. She goes a different day than Blaise. In all my parent years, I have never not gotten into a class, camp, or program that I wanted. Until this past August. Registration for kiddo rock climbing classes opened August 15. I stayed up until midnight. Which was tough; I was tired. It was the night Brian was in California for his dad’s birthday dinner. I had big plans to go to bed at 9pm. But registration! I had it all ready, to hit register at 12:00am on the dot. I literally watched the second hand… I was waitlisted. Haha! It had to happen eventually. I had it all figured out, that I would drop off Laine at gymnastics at 4pm and then head over to the rock climbing gym to drop off Blaise and Saige at 4:30pm. Seamless. Being waitlisted threw a wrench into my plans. I quickly—tired at midnight—changed plans. I registered Blaise for another day Laine has practice. And Saige for the original day I wanted, still dropping her after taking Laine to the gym. It turns out I like it better. And it gives Blaise and Saige individual time at the rock climbing gym. Plus, Blaise’s class is two hours while Saige’s in only 90 minutes. I would have had to kill a half-hour with the three girls while Blaise finished his class. And now Blaise gets one-on-one time with either Brian or me, between the end of his rock climbing class and picking up Laine from practice. I went on again. Saige LOVES rock climbing! We weren’t totally sure how it would go down with her. She’d be happy to game or watch television all day. Not that any of our kids are lazy, but Saige would happily be lazy if we let her. The day after her first class, she was upset that her stomach hurt. Her abs!

Baby has soccer! She loves soccer. It’s not traditional soccer in that she’s on a team that practices each week, and has games on the weekend. Maybe I’m a bad parent, but I won’t do those kind of sports. Instead, Baby takes a weekly class at Arena Sports. Indoor soccer. And she’s the only girl in her class. Her coach is a young woman though, so that’s cool. Baby’s a tough cookie who takes nothing from anyone. Soccer fits her personality well. She is rough and tough, and fights to get the ball in the goal. But she’s a kind teammate. I’m not sure how long we’ll stick with soccer. Not because she doesn’t love going—she wants to do rock climbing with Saige. And Saige wants Baby to be in the class. Baby is on the waitlist (two waitlists in two months!). Saige also wants to take a soccer class. So maybe we’ll switch soccer days. I’ll deal with all that if/when Baby gets into rock climbing.

Again with not taking many photos… I only have pictures of Saige and Baby starting their activities. Saige woke up at 4am the day she started rock climbing and was passed out in the car on the way there. I think this was the first time she’s been asleep in the car since we drove home from California last summer.

Well, on that ramble, let’s move on to pictures from September and October. I haven’t been taking as many pictures as I have in the past. I’m not sure why other than I’m exhausted, and it takes effort to take pictures. Haha. I’m not that exhausted, I’m just making excuses.

September, in pictures.

Lazy start to September. I don’t even know what’s going on here, other than it was taken on September 1. Which was a Wednesday, and the day Baby started soccer and Laine had practice. So my guess by seeing this photo, is I had these three kiddos and they are having some kind of smoothie given the big kiddos are drinking from sippy cups. And it must have been a lazy day since Saige is still in jammies, and soccer and gymnastics are both in the early evening.

Remlinger Farms, again. Laine, Maive, and I hit up Remlinger Farms a few weeks before, while the rest of the kids were at summer camps and Brian was working. This day, Brian took off to prepare for the annual Camp Orkila trip… that he didn’t really need to prepare for since he has it down by now. Instead of preparing, we went to Remlinger. Blaise chose to stay home and probably gamed the whole time. Brian and I took all four girls and had a nice time. The only downer was Remlinger was understaffed. All the high school kids were back in school, no longer working during the weekdays. Which meant they had about five employees working the maybe 14 rides? It was kind of a downer, having to either wait at a certain ride for a while or skip certain rides because they didn’t have enough staff to run them all at the same time. Like usual. It didn’t really matter over all, all the kiddos had a fun time. And Maive was able to ride the horse carousal over and over.

Camp Orkila 2021. The annual trip that was supposed to happen in May but didn’t. Instead, Brian took the kiddos over Labor Day. Only three kiddos went, even though four kiddos set out Friday morning. All about the clusterfuck of Camp Orkila 2021 here.

Hat girls. And plants. Pictures of the girls I found on Brian’s camera. And my current plant cart. New victims! I’ve managed to keep most of the plants I’ve brought home the past year alive. Only a few have perished. Sorry, plants. Thankfully my track record at keeping kiddos alive is spotless.

This was a Friday. I remember this was a Friday but I have no idea why I only had three out of five kiddos?! I know we were killing time, so perhaps one of the missing kiddos was somewhere?! I do remember we went to Redmond Town Center to order cupcakes for Blaise’s birthday party, that we ended up not ordering—he was cool getting cupcakes from Amazon Fresh. Somehow we ended up at Cold Stone. Happy kiddos. After Cold Stone, we went to get Blaise and Saige haircuts. Saige really wanted the underneath of her head shaved. We went to a kid salon, and I don’t think we’ll go back. Blaise’s cut was perfectly fine. Saige, she really wanted a blunt shave underneath a bob. And I was cool with whatever Saige wanted. The lady was really against this, talking Saige out of what she wanted. Telling Saige if she shaved as much off as she wanted, that her hair wouldn’t grow back until she is a teenager. Ridiculous. I was highly annoyed but Saige seemed cool with the modifications the lady suggested. I kept encouraging Saige to speak up if she wasn’t happy, and she kept saying she was fine. And Saige is NOT one to be shy. In the end, Saige was happy but I wasn’t thrilled it wasn’t what Saige originally wanted. The lady said in her over 20 years cutting hair, that this was the most drastic change she had ever made. I question this since she only cut about eight inches off from Saige’s length, and shaved the smallest patch on her right side. Whatever. We won’t be going back to this salon again. I told Saige I’ll take her again to get her underneath shaved and a get a bob, if she still wants.

Ice cream, before haircuts. And a cheesy smile from the toddler.

Catalog Maive. This picture of the toddler makes me think of a catalog shot. And I can’t believe how blonde her hair looks! This was at pickup from the big kiddos’ wilderness school. We meet at the Duvall Park and Ride. And I love the tagging on the wall here. I always think of Duvall as a small town, Carnation also. There was a post last year on Facebook, someone asking if people considered Duvall a city or a town. And while I never respond to any social media posts, I remember thinking, Duvall is clearly a town. That same day the person asked, I happened to be in Duvall and white dude—shocker—was riding a bike with one of those American flags that are black with the blue stripe attached to his bike. And I immediately confirmed my, yep, it’s a town thought. So this tagging was a welcomed sight. Not that anyone should tag, even though I love tagging. But that’s beside the point.

Trail sightings. A downed tree and a deer. Nothing special.

Critters! This was a Saturday evening. I was meeting two friends in Redmond for an outdoor Covid-friendly dinner at the Archer Hotel. And since I was heading out and about, I figured I’d hit Bellevue before to grab my pickup order from Crate & Barrel. Bel Square on a Saturday is a clusterfuck. I’ll never do that again. The thing is, I knew better. But I went anyway. It wasn’t that bad, since pickup orders have special parking. So there’s that. And it didn’t take me as long as I thought it would, so I had time to kill.

Back to Redmond, I hit Home Depot. I always regret going; they’re on my never shop list like Walmart and Chick-fil-A. But somehow I end up at Home Depot. I need to find a better plant store. Rather, a more convenient one. Anyway, there was an adorable, smart little chipmunk who has life figured out. He was inside near the plants, munching on the spilled bird food. After admiring the chipmunk and buying more victims, I left to park at the Archer Hotel and kill a little more time watching Tik Tok. After I parked and settled in with Tik Tok, I decided I had enough time to hit up Petco for a Beta. Roger and Chip both passed away within a week of one another, back in spring. I miss those guys. And so I wanted another Beta. This is Clyde. And he is as handsome as one can be! Roger was my bud, and he and I had a thing going on. At least I like to think he recognized and interacted with me. Clyde is warming up to me. He no longer swims to the bottom of this tank and now lets me stick my finger in his tank to pet him. He’ll never replace Roger but we can have our own thing.

Cute chipmunk! And Clyde, in his coming home container. He is now in a much larger space, with ample space to live a happy Beta life.

Botany class?! This was a Monday. I decided I wanted to spruce up the piggies’ space. They’ve been all over the house, and we—well I—finally decided the bonus room upstairs will be their permanent location. It makes the most sense. The hay is in a room Brian rarely frequents, since he’s allergic. The kiddos spend a ton of time up there so they’ll have company. And I’m in-and-out of there often enough, that I can stop to grab them for some love or drop in a few treats. The only problem is they were on the floor. When they were in the art room, they were on the table and I liked them being higher up. It made it easier to interact with them, and to grab them when we wanted to take them out. I needed a table. But I didn’t want a full-on kitchen table like we have in the art room. And most side and coffee tables are too small to hold their apartment. Solution: IKEA. IKEA has a large enough coffee table to hold the piggies’ apartment, and it’s high enough to make the piggies accessible… but not so high like a kitchen table. I ordered the coffee table online for pickup. To IKEA we went. And since we were going, I wanted to look at more victims after we picked up the coffee table. I love all this curbside pickup stuff. Plus one for Covid. Although, Target was offering this before Covid. LOVE Target.

I’ve become a plant person. Blaise and Laine got in on the plant action, and selected several plants for their rooms. Over $300 later, we left with plants and pots. And a pepper shaker. Once we made it home, we got to potting our new plants. Maive helped! And all the plants are still going strong.

Cardboard donuts! I absolutely love Artbar for art project ideas. Which is where I got the cardboard donut idea. I had some cardboard from the IKEA coffee table but needed more. I hit up the Dollar Tree, where I bought 10 cardboard presentation boards. I figured since I was going to the Dollar Tree, I may as well buy extras so I wouldn’t have to go there again for future cardboard art projects. The checker woman asked if I was a teacher, buying 10 cardboard presentation boards. I said no. She asked what they were for and I said cardboard donuts. She wasn’t amused, haha.

This was a fun one. Blaise was mountain biking so it was only the girls, plus two of their friends. I deemed this an out back art project, needing a larger space and having the toddler paint. The girls went to town. I think Laine and Saige enjoyed it the most, splatter painting their donuts. They finished off the painting with some pom pom and straw sprinkles.

Twin Harbors State Park. We spent one night away in at Twin Harbors State Park, in a cabin there. All about the quick trip here. Maybe one night isn’t much but it sure conked out the toddler the night we made it home.

The ladies. A little over two miles form our house, down the trail, are the ladies. There are horses a bit over one mile from our house. If Maive is with me, we stop and chat with both the horses and the ladies. This day, they were close to the trail. We stopped and admired the cows, before continuing on. There isn’t much going on around the trail after the cows, so it’s a nice little something before nothing. I suppose there is the Catholic Camp, that I call something totally inappropriate. But I wouldn’t call the camp anything worth noting, like horses and cows.

Play-Doh. Maive is all about Play-Doh. Just another day here, with her getting her Play-Doh on, with two sisters joining her.

Mini-bundt cakes. Last Christmas, I bought Laine one of those mini-bundt cake makers. I think she forgot about it until this day, when she made mini-bundt cakes for all the kiddos. I love the older ages… they can do everything on their own. Maybe that’s just a bonus since I’m still in the thick of having young kiddos who need help with several things. The cakes turned out pretty well, Laine did a great job. And all the kiddos enjoyed eating them.

Horse! Wrapping up September, a trip to Target. More like a killing time at Target. We have one crazy weeknight, and this was that night. Long story short, I have to kill a little over an hour with Maive, before meeting Brian at Costco to hand her off. We always feel like divorced parents meeting for custody trade-off. This night, Maive found a horse at Target. So of course we bought the sucker. She also scored some more Play-Doh to play with at home. She’s sitting on my lap as I type this—looking at her picture—saying while laughing, “Horse, Maive!” And then looking over at the horse on the couch, that she hasn’t touched since we bought it this night.

October, in pictures.

Friday. October kicked off on a Friday, and Baby had outdoor school. After dropping her off, it was homeschool time. Brian went to the office this Friday, which always makes me more productive. I’m not sure why this is?! We feed off of each other, in a lazy way. If Brian is home, I tend to put off doing things. When he’s gone, I’m a busy bee. Same for him. It’e weird. Whatever the reason, Fridays have become homeschool/workbook day, and the older three bang out their work as quickly as possible so they can take the rest of the day off. Which I totally get. I want the rest of the day off, too.

Space club. Baby in her space club class. This was two days before her birthday, and she was telling everyone about turning six. This teacher is really great—he’s so amazing with the kiddos—and made a special slide for everyone to sing Happy Birthday to Baby. She was thrilled! And Maive attempting to use the computer. Toddlers are such mimickers.

Craven Farm. On Baby’s birthday. We spent the morning at the pumpkin patch before celebrating Baby with a home party in the evening. There was playing, corn mazing, and pumping finding. All while Baby telling everyone it was her birthday. Another year down at Craven Farm.

Birthday party numero uno. This Saturday was a birthday party bonanza. We had a party in the morning, and a party in the evening. First up is a buddy of Maive’s, who is in her Lunch Bunch class. And he happens to be one of Saige’s buddy’s little brother. And so I took Saige and Maive to party, and they had a great time. The party was so much fun! It was a construction-themed party, and everything was set up so nicely. It was a backyard party, Covid-friendly, and the kiddos got their construction on. Plus bubbles!

Birthday party numero dos. Another fun party! This birthday was at the Tolt MacDonald campground. The family rented the large camping space with the option for friends to bring their camping gear and spend the night. What a fun idea. We didn’t spend the night though. Brian was considering it when we were first invited, to spend the night with Saige and Baby. We even were going to buy a tent. But Laine had a meet the next day, starting at 8am and Blaise had archery at 9am, and it would have made for a crazy Sunday morning. Instead, we stayed from about 4pm to 6:30pm, before calling it a fun-filled birthday party Saturday. Before heading out, everyone roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, and got their play on in in the rain. Thankfully the birthday family and our kiddos are all outdoor kiddos, and the rain didn’t even faze them. Needless to say, the toddler was exhausted and passed out immediately at home. She was partied out!

First meet of the season! Laine’s first meet of the season was an intersquad meet at her gym. At 8am. Which meant we had to be there at 7:45am. It was early but she did great! I think she’s a bit rusty from not competing for well over a year, but she still did a fabulous job on each event. Brian met me there with the younger three gals, after dropping off Blaise at archery. We all were able to cheer on Laine from above. There are two more meets before the end of 2021. Technically three more but we’re skipping the Florida one. It’s the weekend before Christmas and I have zero interest in traveling then.

Runners! Long before Covid—back before I was pregnant with Maive—my plan was to get Blaise and Laine into running with me, and running in a few 5ks around town. Right after I started taking Laine, I found out I was pregnant with Maive. Plans were put on hold. And then Covid hit, and all 5ks were cancelled. Not that we couldn’t have run regardless, but there was no 5k event goal to hit for the kids. I put it off. Until now. Blaise and Laine don’t have school Mondays. And so this Monday, I took them to a running store to buy proper running shoes. And then we hit the trail. They did great! Laine is so in shape, the run didn’t even faze her. In fact, she chose to run home from the trail, while Blaise and I walked home. We’ll keep up on the running and register for the 5ks I was going to do with them back in 2019.

They got warm; sweatshirts came off! And they’ll learn to run on the right. Thankfully there wasn’t anyone else on the trail this time.

Lunch Bunch! Another class for Maive. This week we met at a trailhead in Woodinville for the Tolt Pipeline trail. The kiddos made their own fishing poles, with a stick they found and some yarn to attach a tinfoil-covered paper fish. After the craft and lunch, we walked on the trail to the stream and looked for salmon. We found a dead salmon and a salmon tail. Maive was all about playing in the water, and bonus for salmon. She is so cute at these classes! I love seeing her experience new things. I’m really appreciating having a toddler this go around. Not that I didn’t before, but I only have one and she’s the last. It’s a different experience for me.

Puffy coat time. It’s that time of the year, where it’s cold enough that Maive needs a puffy coat on our trail outings. This was her first day wearing the sucker, modeling it in the stroller. She LOVES her trail outings. Anytime I put on my running shoes, she asks, “Walk, me?” while patting her chest.

The boys! These guys are so funny. This week when I cleaned their cage—keyword I since Laine hasn’t cleaned it in weeks even though that was the deal when we agreed to getting her guinea pigs—I decided I’d put hay in a bin, instead of on the floor of their apartment. Putting it on the floor makes a big mess; they track it all over their entire apartment. Which in turn makes cleaning the cage messier. After cleaning it this week, I put one basket with hay in there. And when I checked back on them an hour or so later, Lettuce was chilling IN the basket; Louey was sitting next to the basket on the floor. I decided Louey needed his own basket. I put another one in there. And when I checked back a bit later, Lettuce was in the new one. He is such a stinker. Thankfully Louey took the original basket, and all was good with both boys in their own baskets. Using the baskets has sure made cleaning easier.

Lettuce hogging the original basket of hay.

Costumes! I am not one to keep things. I just don’t like storing stuff. I like everything in the house to be things we currently use. I even have a hard time storing holiday decorations… I’d love to buy more for each holiday, but the thought of having to store things stops me from buying more stuff. Anyway, all of the kiddos get new stuff, for the most part. Because of that storing thing I don’t like. I do have one bin of old Halloween costumes. Not many, maybe five. I busted out the bin this Thursday, when I only had Baby and Maive at home. They quickly started trying on the few costumes. Baby wore the dinosaur costume all day while Maive opted to try on a few, choosing the lion as her favorite. It was a costume I bought for Saige back when we lived briefly in an apartment while our house was being built, and all of our stuff was in storage. I had just had Baby and went to Target to pick out costumes for the kiddos. The options for Saige were minimal, a lion it was. Here she is next to Maive in the same costume. Saige was newly one here and Maive is not quite two.

Maive in the middle, almost two; Saige on the right, age one.

Art class. Laine loves art, and she was hosting a class for Baby, teaching her how to draw a pumpkin. They both did a great job! Today Laine was knitting. I had no idea she knew how?! Such an artsy kiddo!

Velociraptor Baby! Baby picked out a velociraptor costume for Halloween this year. She always goes with such fun costumes, tough ones. She’s never been anything girly. Not that it matters, but I love this about her personality. Rough and tough. Baby wanted to see what she looked like in her costume so I took a picture; Maive joined in wearing her new fleece ‘fit that had arrived with Baby’s costume.

Costco Maive. We had more time to kill, while Saige and Baby were at rock climbing and soccer. Costco it was. We never need anything at Costco when we kill time but we always find things we need. Funny how that works. Of course the old dude checking receipts drew a ghost for Maive. The kiddos have always loved this part of Costco.

Fall! A compilation of fall trail outings. It’s so pretty out there now!

Blaise date! Each week when Laine has practice and Blaise has rock climbing, there is a 90 minute span between picking up Blaise and picking up Laine. Brian and I have been switching off picking up Blaise so we can have some alone time with the guy. This night it was my turn, and we went to Red Robin and then Cost Plus (I think people call this World Market but my mom always called it Cost Plus growing up). He really wanted to get Milka bars for everyone. Last year, Brian had taken Blaise and Laine to Cost Plus to buy a selection of chocolate bars, to determine which one is the best. The winner was Milka and we hadn’t had any since. We bought seven bars and the young gal checking us out commented that we must really like Milka. I said we do, and we were getting a bar for each member of our family. She made a comment about five kids being a big family. She was sweet, not making a bad comment. I think it’s just that we live in a mostly two-and-done area. Maybe three. But anything more, it’s met with surprised looks. Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to live in Utah, where large families are the norm. But then I’d have to live among a ton of Mormons. And yeah, I stop wondering. Lovely families I’m sure, but the whole Mormon thing isn’t for me.

Someone is looking so much older!

Almost two! The toddler is Miss Independent these days. She readied herself for school, even though we were going nowhere. And her backpack was packed with random things. But she was ready!

Movie time! Brian took Blaise and Laine to see The Rescue, about the cave rescue of young boys trapped. The kiddos already knew about the story, as we had chatted about it back when it happened. We pulled Laine early from practice, not telling her coach why. Sometimes saying less is better. Brian and Blaise picked up Laine, hit Red Robin, and then the theater. They were the only ones in the entire theater, having the movie to themselves. Brian said even the whole theater was dead, and it felt like they were the only ones there. Maybe a Thursday evening—a school night—doesn’t bring out a big crowd. Another plus one for homeschooling.

Bath time. Brian has always been the kiddo bather. It’s one thing I’m not a big fan of doing. And with every gal, he has made their hair into a horn once it’s long enough. It was Maive’s turn this time.

Movie time. We’ve been attempting to make Friday nights movie night. It’s happening here and there, but not consistently. Life happens. This was Saturday afternoon—Maive’s birthday—and movie time. Maybe next Friday we’ll get back to a movie routine.

Halloween! Back in August, I signed us up for a tractor ride at Farrel-McWhirter. It seemed like something fun we could do as a family. We don’t get out much, all seven of us, these days. Between Covid and exhaustion after busy weeks, weekends tend to be spent at home if we don’t have any plans. After a busy summer and start of the school year, nothing weekends are my favorite. But this Sunday, Halloween, we went to Farrel-McWhirter. Thankfully it wasn’t raining, although we still would have gone. I asked the lady to take our picture, and she totally left me out, haha! We did the ride, checked on the animals, and left to obtain pumpkins to carve. After a few stops, we ended up at a patch close to home. Brian popped out and bought seven pumpkins.

Back home, we got to carving. I had no patience for the kiddos while carving, so Brian took it all on while I sat on the sidelines. In the end, it was all good. And the kiddos did a great job. Laine got frustrated carving her pumpkin and gave up. Hence no solo picture of her with a carved pumpkin. She eventually calmed down and finished Maive’s pumpkin.

After carving pumpkins, the kiddos we wound up waiting for Trick-or-Treating. Their buddies were coming over to go with us. In the hours before they arrived, the kiddos dog piled on the family room floor. They were so freaking loud. Some days I’m not meant to have five kiddos. But come costume time, I was back to being happy about having five kiddos. We did costume pictures before their friends arrived.

Their friends arrived about 6pm, and we set out Trick-or-Treating in our ‘hood. We have a fabulous neighborhood for Halloween. It’s the perfect amount of houses. And so many full-sized candy bars. Score! Baby and Maive petered out with one loop of the neighborhood left. Brian took them back home, while I continued on with Blaise, Laine, and Saige. After hitting every house in the ‘hood, we went back home and the candy trading began. It didn’t really matter. I’m so tired of the constant bickering about who has what, that I combined everyone’s candy in one big bucket. The did get to keep their own full-sized candy bars. I thought they’d complain, but nope. All has been well, even nearly a week later.

Laine and her buddy are already planning Halloween costumes for next year. Rumor is they’ll be Mario and Luigi, and Maive will be baby Yoshi. We’ll see if that sticks.

And that’s that. It’s one week into November and I am loving the quiet schedule. And the rainy, darker days. Although the rain got me hard yesterday… I went for a run when I thought it was a break and about 20 minutes into my run, it poured. Like I was under a shower head rain. My rain shell was sticking to my body, not fun. So maybe none of that moving forward. But the Thanksgiving decorations are up, daylight savings happened last night, and the kids are getting jabbed this week. Not too shabby!

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